ESAs Empower Education

All students, regardless of their zip code and income level, deserve the opportunity for an education that fits their unique needs and goals. In a recent Concord Monitor article, Middleton McGoodwin, the superintendent in the Claremont school district, said, “In truth, today, in NH, a child’s zip code determines their educational opportunities.” ESAs empower our most-vulnerable children with equal opportunities, like their wealthier peers.

New Hampshire has the opportunity to put more options within reach for low-income children with Senate Bill 193, the Education Savings Account (ESA) bill. ESAs are funds that children receive to a designated account that are used for specified educational purposes. Approved uses may include textbooks, online classes, tutoring, testing, AP classes, dual-enrollment courses, private school tuition, homeschool expenses, and other education-related fees. ESAs will benefit the most vulnerable in our communities who otherwise cannot access options. Even if the pilot ESA program can only help a few hundred children, it still makes a big impact on their individual lives.

The following is written by Kitty Michelotti, a mom to three boys and home educator.

“I never let my schooling interfere with my education” Grant Allen.

Education is a game changer. A slave, with an education, becomes Fredrick Douglass. An expelled child, with an education, becomes Thomas Edison. A Harvard dropout, with an education, becomes Bill Gates. Schooling does not equal education. Education can happen through covert observation as with Douglass, at home as it did for Edison, or while building one’s own company as it did for Gates. Driven by their own intrinsic motivation, these men spent hours immersed in their learning, and they changed the world.

According to Forbes Magazine and The Aspen Institute the greatest predictor of a child’s educational opportunities is their zip code. No child chooses where they are born and many parents can not chose freely where to live. The schooling a child will receive is out of the control of they and their parents. To ignore this fact is to tout the privilege of a person with both economical and educational station.

We are preparing our students for careers that do not yet exist using a system created for the industrial revolution. Children are trained to the sounds of bells, discouraged from collaboration, immersed in a competitive world of bullying, and told how and what to think in order to pass a standardized test. The character traits needed for an unknown future are creativity, curiosity, resilience, empathy, and resourcefulness. We can not use a centuries-old antiquated system of schooling to educate children for a future where they could be colonizing Mars, conferencing in virtual reality, and 3D printing their first car.

Educational Savings Accounts have the power to take a schooled child and grant her a true education. I support educational savings accounts because conformity and a zip code should not determine ones’ success.

No one would’ve questioned Gate’s, Edison’s or Douglass’ use of an ESA. Which children in the school system now are the next one of these great figures, but are trapped because of their zip code or parent’s income? No one supported those men, so they struggled and educated themselves. I prefer to help children to become educated and be on the right side of history by supporting ESAs.

For more information about ESAs, read articles about the fiscal impact, constitutionality, and other media coverage.

The entire NH House of Representatives will vote on the ESA bill, SB 193, on Wednesday, May 2nd or May 3rd. Contact your state representatives, urging them to support SB 193 and put more options within reach for our most vulnerable children.